Cilantro Lime Sauce
Vibrant, tangy, and easy to whiz together in a blender or food processor, this cilantro lime sauce is perfect with fish, shrimp, fish tacos, as a chicken marinade or super flavorful shredded chicken. Plus it’s easy enough to whip up any night of the week!
About this Cilantro Lime Sauce Recipe
I don’t know about you but I love fresh, herby sauces (bonus points if they’re multi-purpose and can be drizzled over all-the-things!).
So from the moment I started testing versions in my kitchen, I knew I wanted this sauce to be vibrant & tangy, with a clear cilantro lime flavor profile.
For that reason, I made it without sour cream or yogurt, which means it’s also naturally dairy-free and vegan – but if you happen to want a creamier version, check out the variation notes below.
I love that this deceptively simple sauce uses only a handful of ingredients and comes together in just a blender or food processor.
So while it tastes like a fancy restaurant-style sauce and looks impressive enough to serve for any special occasion, this blender sauce is easy enough to make any night of the week.
Tip: Use this cilantro lime sauce to quickly & effortlessly dress up a weeknight dinner! It goes well with almost any protein (like fish, shrimp, chicken or chickpeas) and almost any dish (think tacos, burrito bowls, big salads, roast chicken or anything-grilled).
Process & Tips
The good news is that making healthy sauces & marinades at home doesn’t have to be complicated or involve lots of hard-to-find ingredients.
The beauty of this recipe is that everything comes together in just a blender (or food processor) using pantry staples and a few easy-to-find fresh ingredients.
Simply add everything to your blender and whiz everything up (seriously, it’s that easy).
Before you know it, you’ll have a tasty sauce or marinade to use on almost anything!
PS – This sauce is a great way to use up any leftover fresh cilantro in your fridge before it goes bad. More flavor and less food waste, for hardly any extra effort on your part!
Fun Cilantro Lime Sauce Variations to Try
To make this sauce a cilantro lime dressing, add 2 tablespoons of water to the mixture while blending, which will yield a thinner, more pourable dressing-like texture.
Turn it into a creamy cilantro lime dip by stirring it together with ¼ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for a crave-worthy dip for chips, veggies, or drizzled over your favorite bowl.
Feel free to leave out the honey for a low-carb, vegan and Whole30 compatible version.
This sauce is the perfect way to finish baked or grilled fish. Just drizzle over for a punch of flavor and color.
Make a cilantro lime shrimp dish of your dreams by sauteing or grilling one pound of shrimp, then tossing together with the sauce. Serve over rice or wrapped in warm tortillas. Yum!
This sauce also makes an amazingly flavorful cilantro lime chicken marinade. We’ve included instructions on how to use it as a marinade in the recipe card below.
Ingredients & Modifications
Cilantro: Since it’s the signature, star ingredient, fresh cilantro works best for this recipe. Aside from the fresh & herby flavor, it adds a gorgeous vibrant green color that makes this simple sauce feel special enough to serve for any occasion. Note that since this sauce is blended it’s fine to use both the cilantro stems and leaves.
Garlic: I love the flavor of fresh garlic in this recipe, especially given that we’re using so few ingredients. But you could also use garlic powder in its place.
Avocado oil: I love the light flavor of the avocado oil in this recipe. But you can also use any other neutral flavored oil in its place like olive, vegetable or canola oil.
Ground cumin: The earthy flavor of the ground cumin complements the other ingredients in this sauce so well. It’s one of my favorite & most versatile spices to keep on hand in my pantry!
Lime juice: The lime juice adds a bright, fresh and tangy flavor to this sauce and pairs so well with the cilantro. You could also use fresh lemon juice in its place.
Honey: This ingredient is entirely optional, but the natural sweetness of the honey can provide a nice balance to the other flavors in this recipe. For a whole30, vegan, low carb or low sugar version, simply omit the honey entirely.
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
Cilantro Lime Sauce
- ¼ cup avocado oil, or other neutral flavored oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 cups packed fresh cilantro, (leaves and stems)
- 1 tablespoon honey, omit for vegan, low carb or Whole30
Cilantro Lime Sauce Instructions
- Add the oil, garlic, cumin, salt, lime juice, honey and cilantro to a blender or food processor. Blend on low until just combined.
- Use as a drizzle sauce, dipping sauce, dressing, or marinade.
Chicken Marinade Instructions
- Make the sauce according to the instructions above. Add half the sauce to a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish along with 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, tossing to coat. Set the other half of the sauce aside.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- Uncover and discard the marinade. Shake any excess marinade off the chicken.
- Grill over medium heat, flipping halfway through. Cook until the chicken thighs register 185F to 190F degrees or chicken breasts register 165F.
- Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, tented with foil. When ready to serve, slice against the grain and serve with remaining sauce for drizzling or dipping.